Now that you're pregnant, you're going to have to practice your pelvic floor exercises regularly.
I’ll take you through how to do Kegels and safely exercise during pregnancy to help you stay strong and active while carrying your bub, all the way through to giving birth and looking after your newborn.
To get you started, here are the basics on why and how mums-to-be should make Kegels a priority in their pregnancy workout routine.
They’re a series of clench-and-release exercises you can do at any time to make your pelvic floor stronger – and this is never more important than when you're working out pregnant.
Your pelvic floor is a series of muscles and tissues that form a sling at the bottom of your pelvis – supporting your uterus, bladder and bowels, and helping you to control the release of waste. With all the pressure of supporting a growing baby, these muscles are absolutely critical. Strengthening them can help to prevent and control urinary incontinence post-birth, as well as other pelvic floor problems.
What's the deal with kegels? Let Emily and Phoebe give you the lowdown on the essential exercise no one will know you're doing!
The great thing about this exercise is you can do it anywhere, anytime – waiting in the doctor’s surgery, standing in a supermarket queue, working at your desk or while brushing your teeth.
As with any other muscle, your pelvic floor muscles need to be exercised for both strength and endurance (endurance is handy when you’re busting, trust me!) So I recommend you do Kegels daily – starting now. The movement is all about the mind-body connection (a bit like engaging your core), so stay focused until you get the hang of them.
Here’s your step by step guide to doing Kegels:
Step 1. Contract or lift your pelvic floor by thinking about your front and back passages rising into your abdomen – draw them up, then relax. Do this around 10 times, have a break, then repeat.
Step 2. For endurance training, lift and hold your pelvic floor while counting steadily to 10, then relax.
Note: You may find that when you go to relax, your pelvic floor has already beaten you to it. This is because your pelvic floor muscles will slowly fatigue and drop without you knowing it. Try to find the number you can count to before you actively feel the moment of relaxation, then work from there. The endurance holds will get harder the further along in your pregnancy you go, so don’t worry if your number decreases – I’ll help you build it back up after your baby is born.
There is no golden number of pelvic floor lifts to achieve in a session or a day. Just remember some exercise for your pelvic floor is better than none, so don’t beat yourself up if you forget for a few days.
If you experience any symptoms such as pain, discomfort or heaviness in your pelvic floor area, please see your doctor.
Always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise program, as there are some situations where exercise may not be advised. This information should be used as a guide only and should not replace the advice of your medical practitioner.
Women’s health physiotherapist Phoebe Armfield has over 15 years’ experience in helping women take control of their bodies into co-designing the FIT Pregnancy and FIT Post-Pregnancy programs with Emily Skye. She holds a Master of Physiotherapy, a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise, is a certified Pilates Instructor (including pre and postnatal Pilates), and Certified Trainer.
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